Interview with Conny Olivetti

fRa-film is proud to offer an interview with musician Conny Olivetti.
Olivetti has been active since the early 80’s when he started making music for our films.

fRa-film: Tell us a little about your background

Conny: As you said, I started making music for your experimental films, which appealed to me as your films suited the music I started making. At the same time, me and a good friend, Clas Jonsson, started a synth group called DOTS. This was around 1980 and we worked with an MS-20 and an MS-10, and a lot of sampling, voices from favorite movies and special effects albums.

We did not have a sampler to begin with, but recorded the voices directly on the tape at the time of recording. Around 1984, we started recording in a studio in Käppala on Lidingö, studio GOF, where we used a sampling delay (Korg SD2000) for the first time. Although the sampling time was as short as 1-4 seconds, it was used in a creative and effective way. Lots of fun!
I was also one of the members of the group Snaap Hunter Ensemble, which can be said to be Sweden’s answer to the American group The Residents.

fRa-film: When did you feel it was time to start releasing records, it took quite a long time before you released something.

Conny: The reason was probably that the music was not good enough to be released. Around 2005, my good friend Pål Janson and I started making music together with Pål’s daughter, Linnea. We made three albums under the name ”wHaTiF ?” which were released digitally on Bandcamp, and it was probably when the group disbanded around 2009 that I felt it was time to start releasing my own stuff.

The experience from working with the group strengthened my belief in myself as a musician. However, I still have a hard time calling myself a musician, I’m probably more of a non-musician, no resemblance to Brian Eno though, but musically I have no idea what I do. Works more on feeling and the experience I constantly build and use.

fRa-film: It is eleven years since your first album, Motorik, was released, and you have released 24 albums, all in all. What is the reason for this creative flow, after all that is a lot of albums in such a short time?

Conny: I’ve been very creative all my life, whether it’s music, pictures or movies. For me, it’s a way of life, and honestly, I’m only really happy if I create. However, this does not mean that I release anything just for the sake of it, everything is meticulously reviewed and nothing is released if I am not completely satisfied with the result. This way of working means that the music I listen to the most is my own. As long as I hear something in the music that I am not happy with, regardless of whether it is a small detail or a larger part, such as the rhythm track not working, I continue until I can listen without reacting negatively to anything.

fRa-film: Many of your albums have a consistent theme where the songs go into each other, and it feels like you should preferably listen to the whole album, not a song here and there. What is the idea behind this?

Conny: Over the years, I have realized that I get more inspiration if I work with a consistent theme and build the album as a suite. Sources of inspiration here are probably mostly Roger Water’s work with Pink Floyd. The sound image and all voices etc.

fRa-film: People often mention the band Kraftwerk as inspiration or similarity when they talk about your music, what do you think about it and what other sources of inspiration do you have?

Conny: Even though I’m a big Kraftwerk fan, it can get a little tiring in the long run. Ok, I can admit and hear some similarities, but I’m not good enough musically to be able to copy their music, and even if I could, I’m not interested.
Other sources of inspiration are probably Cluster, Eno, Twice a Man, Faust, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, White Noise, Anna Själv Tredje, Bill Nelson, Roedelius and The Residents.
However, I must add that inspiration does not have to apply to the music, may be the attitude or the work method of some artists.

fRa-film: Since the album “Probing The Sonic Heritage” you have printed physical editions of your albums, and what we understand is that each album has an edition of fifty copies. At the same time, you give away your music for free or let people pay what they think is reasonable to download the music. This does not feel like a for-profit concept, what is the idea behind physical releases, if you do not get any money back on them?

Conny: I like the whole concept, record an album, design the cover in collaboration with OverHead Head, who made almost all of my covers, it’s another part of the creative that gets out. Then it feels like real to have a physical CD to give away or sell to those who are willing to pay. But sure, it’s a terrible business idea 🙂

fRa-film: What is or was the idea behind the concept “The Faithfull Few?

Conny: Over the years, I have become friends with a lot of people through the Internet, especially through the English forum, Black Cat Bone, where I first presented my music. The idea was that you get a physical copy, completely free in exchange for posting feedback on Facebook and linking to my music. A good concept in my opinion. At most, we had 25 people who had signed up for this offer. Most live in England, some in Australia and some in the United States. In general, it has worked well, although from time to time you have to remind them of feedback, something that I don’t feel comfortable with. But in recent years I have learned, or realized that people sometimes do not have time, even if you get something for free, and as this led to more irritation than joy in me, I skipped the demand for feedback. Those who are currently on the list will in the future receive all new releases. But probably I will see how long I can hold on, purely financially. Maybe not as often, which is maybe a good thing…

fRa movie: After the group ”wHaTiF?” split up you have worked all alone, are there any advantages or disadvantages to this, compared to working with others?

Conny: Hard to answer, of course I can miss working with others. But since 2017 I work together with the English musician Marakas, we have a band called Modus Operandi.

We have released two albums so far and the third album was planned to be released last year, but then came the pandemic and everything is postponed for the future. Just like on the album “Space Exploration”, Linnea will participate in singing, and at the moment it is difficult to get together and record the vocals. We have also planned a couple of videos with Linnea, but we have to wait until its safe to get together. We also have a collaboration with another singer, name is currently secret, but what we have heard is very good. So we look forward to releasing the album, now that it’s over.
When it comes to working by yourself, it’s always good to get feedback during the process itself, and I’m happy to have Maarten van Valen from “The Faithfull Few” who acts as a sounding board. Maarten has been previewing my albums in recent years, and I value his views, not only because he likes my music, but I trust his input. Otherwise, I post new music on Facebook, usually videos, to check the reaction, how it is received. A little difficult to explain, but usually I just need to make something public to distance myself from the song and see any shortcomings that need to be addressed.

fRa-film: What do you work with, software or hardware?

Conny: I have been using Propellerheads Reason since 2001, and even though I have a Korg MS-10 mini and a Moog Mother-32, I am more comfortable working with software, I feel that I have more control over the whole chain. During the years with wHaTiF? we also used Logic together with Reason, to be able to work with audio files. This was before Reason got audio recording. Marakas also uses Reason so it is easier to share files with each other.

fRa-film: Which of your albums are you most proud of, your own favorites?

Conny: It is difficult to try to be objective when it comes to one’s own work. The few times I go back and listen to old albums, I have a very hard time remembering how I worked, it feels more like someone else music. Hard to explain. But if I have to mention five titles, it will probably be the new album “Bygone Transmission From The Future”, “Impulsive Thrust”, “Ourang Medan”, “Zeitgeist” and “Musik für junge mädchen mit kleine ohren”. I am also very proud of the collaboration with Dan Söderqvist from Twice a Man, our single “Night Meditation” that was released on Bandcamp in 2019.

fRa-film: What do we expect in the future from Mr. Olivetti?

Conny: Working on a new album called “Bygone Transmission From The Future”. The album is pretty much ready and I’m very happy with it. Probably the record I worked on the longest. Recording began in May last year and is still ongoing. At the moment, it feels like the record I always tried to make, but never succeeded with. 17 songs, all fairly short and as usual a consistent theme where all songs go in each other. Running time 48 minutes.

fRa-film: Thanks for your time and good luck with the new album!

Conny: Thank you!

%d bloggers like this: